Recently there has been a demand for tools which will allow the user to create video games for the PC and consoles. In the last few years many options have become available, and in this article I will outline a few of them. I will also cover some of the terminology of this subject, and provide some alternatives to creating your own games on the PC.
Make Your Own Video Games for Consoles:
The only console system you can currently make games for is the Xbox 360. To do so you need to download XNA and join their "Creator's Club" for $ 99.00 a year. XNA has been designed to be fairly easy to use, but some programming experience is required.
Make Your Own Video Games for the PC:
There are many options if you want to make your own games on the PC. The first thing you need to know is the difference between a game engine, and a GCS (Game Creation System.)
A video game engine is just that, an engine. Few if any tools come with it, so some programming is required. There are many commercial engines available such as the Unreal Engine or CryEngine 2, and almost as many free alternatives. Crystal Space 3D and the Irrlicht Engine are examples of the later.
If you do not want to mess with any programming you need a GCS. A GCS packages a video game engine along with a variety of tools which can be used to make a game. There are a lot of commercial options, such as Torque or Gamestudio, but no comprehensive free or open source alternatives. Delta 3D is one such choice, but you will need additional tools to create games with it.
I should also mention that GCSs may not be a perfect fit for your particular needs when making a game for the PC. Most game developers use many custom tools tailor made for their needs as a result. So your best bet is to use tools that are specialized for different aspects of game development. You will need a good programming environment, a good image editor, a good sound and music editor, and a good modeling animation studio.
The current industry standard modeling and animation studios are 3DS Max and Maya. However True Space and Blender both provide excellent free alternatives, and are backed by large, supporting communities. The industry standard image editing programs are Paint Shop Pro and Adobe Photoshop, but the free alternatives Gimp and Paint.NET will work just as well. Expensive programs like Cakewalk are used for the creation of music and sounds, but Audacity is a free alternative. The best free programming environment is Microsoft Visual Studio Express.
Making video games requires a lot of work, but with the right tools it can be done fairly quickly and easily. Now that you know what tools to look for, it should be a lot easier to find what you need.